US powerplant manufacturer’s PMA initiative could shatter engine spares status quo

Pratt & Whitney has launched Global Material Solutions, a daring new venture aimed at manufacturing spare parts for the CFM International CFM56-3.

The bold move is aimed at poaching a chunk of the lucrative spares business for the ubiquitous mid-thrust powerplant, and marks the first time a major engine maker has entered the PMA (parts manufacturer approval) market for a competing frontline manufacturer’s engine.

Although CFMI plays down the impact of P&W’s gambit, the venture is believed to be sending worrying signals to joint-venture partner General Electric and other original equipment manufacturers (OEM) such as Rolls-Royce and Honeywell. With most new civil engine sales currently made at cost, the increased reliance on spares revenues means the P&W move is likely to be seen as a potentially destabilising threat to the status quo.

Launch customer for the venture is United Airlines, which has signed a 10-year parts agreement for its fleet of 98 CFM56-powered Boeing 737s. “This is very strategic to us and a good extension to our aftermarket business which has involved the CFM56 for several years,” says P&W president Louis Chenevert. The venture also represents the first time a major engine OEM has actively designed, developed and certificated rotating PMA parts for a competing powerplant. “These are not just the gas path parts, but all the replacement, life-limited parts including the discs which is a big change,” he adds.

P&W also believes the move into the CFM56 market will renew its links with narrowbody airliner operators. Global Material Solutions vice-president and general manager Matthew Bromberg says the venture is expected to be fully operational by early 2008, and will manufacture 55 CFM56-3 parts. P&W expects the parts to receive US Federal Aviation Administration certification in two phases, with around half being approved by the end of this year. Certification for the remaining parts is set to follow in 2007. Bromberg expects other customers to sign contracts by September.

CFMI says the original designer and manufacturer of a jet engine “has an inherent advantage in supplying the safest, most effective parts for a jet engine”.

Source: Flight International